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How to Properly Care for Your Kitchen Cabinets

Of course, it’s as important to keep cabinets tidy as it is to be well organized. Because kitchen cabinets are placed precisely where some of the messiest work in the home occurs, they soon show the effects of grease, food spills, and moisture. Use these tips from Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook to keep them shiny and new.

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To minimize dirt and grime on the inside cabinets (and protect dishes and glassware), always line shelves and drawers: easily replaced parchment paper for the cabinet under the sink, for example, and vinyl board cover liners (made of a resilient rubbery substance) in the knife drawer to help keep the knives from sliding. Here are other liners and their uses:

 

Types of Shelf and Drawer Liners

 

Adhesive: The traditional inexpensive adhesive plastic shelf liner is difficult to handle and remove. (See instructions for removing, below.) Look for low- tack versions.

 

Cedar: Because of the repellant properties of cedar, natural cedar liners are suit- able storage areas where pantry moths and other insects can be a con- cern, such as where you keep spices, dry goods, or kitchen linens.

 

Felt: Line drawers containing silver that has been and silver-plate flatware with felt treated with antitarnishing agents.

 

Rubber: Resilient and nonslip, rubber grips small items to hold them in place. Because it contains sulfur, which causes corrosion, however, it is not a good choice for drawers containing silverware.

 

Cork: Available in rolls several feet in length, cork provides a resilient surface that cushions fragile items such as glassware. It also resists mold and mildew.

 

How to Remove Adhesive Shelf Liners

There are several solvents that will dissolve shelf-liner adhesive. From mild to strong, these include rubber-cement remover, acetone, and turpentine. Start with a mild product; if it doesn’t work, move to something more po- tent. Carefully pull up a corner of the liner with a paint scraper or razor blade. With a natural-bristle paintbrush, dab solvent beneath the paper while tugging on the corner. Working quickly, continue brushing and pulling until the liner comes off. You may need to use a scraper to peel back the liner, but keep in mind that this can gouge the surface of the shelf. Once you have removed the liner, sand any remaining adhesive with a fine- to medium-grit sandpaper.

 

If you’re not able to lift the liner using the technique above, try paint stripper. Apply it to the entire surface of the liner using a paintbrush, and leave it on for about half an hour (follow the manufacturer’s instructions); use a scraper to loosen the liner. Wipe residual stripper off the surface with a damp sponge, then sand.

 

When using any solvent, work in a well-ventilated area and safeguard the surrounding surfaces by taping down Kraft paper. (If you are working with paint stripper, use plastic drop cloths.) It’s safest to apply paint stripper outdoors. If this is not possible, cross-ventilate the area by opening all doors and windows. Wear goggles and chemical-resistant gloves, and never work near a source of high heat, sparks, or flames, such as a clothes dryer or gas stove.

 

 

How to Clean Cabinet Hardware

Grime builds up quickly on cabinet doors, especially around handles, and that buildup can be particularly stubborn. Typically, though, a good cleaning with mild dishwashing liquid and water, as part of your regular routine, is all that’s required to undo the damage and prevent further buildup.

 

The best way to clean tough grime, however, is to remove the hard- ware itself. Unscrew it, and soak it in warm, soapy water for thirty minutes (while you wipe down the cabinets); scrub lightly with a soft brush if necessary. Let hardware dry completely before replacing it.

 

 

 

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How to Clean Cabinet Boxes and Doors

How to Clean Glass-Front Cabinets Wipe glass with a solu- tion of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part warm water, or any cleaning products designed for glass, carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions. Never use abrasive cleaning tools or sponges, which could scratch or dull the finish.

For all cabinets, the approach you take will depend largely on the material, although gentle treatment is best. As part of your weekly cleaning routine, wipe cabinet exteriors with a soft, damp cloth or a damp microfiber cloth. Try a mixture of several drops of mild dishwashing liquid in a bucket of warm water, applied with a soft cloth or sponge, before working your way up to anything stronger. For stubborn stains, wipe with an undiluted all- purpose cleaner. Whatever product you use, always read the label carefully, follow all instructions, and test a small area inside a door—where any mishaps will be inconspicuous -- before tackling the fronts of your cabinets. Rinse surfaces thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth after washing. To avoid streaking, dry with a clean, absorbent cloth.

 

At the beginning of each season, clean the insides of cabinets, first removing everything within, including liners if possible; wipe interior surfaces with the mild dishwashing liquid solution mentioned above. After washing, wipe interiors well with a clean, damp cloth. Dry completely with a clean absorbent cloth before replacing liners and the cabinets’ contents. For specific care guidelines for cabinets, by material, see the chart below.

 

Cabinet Materials and Their Care

The four most common cabinet materials are wood, laminate, thermofoil, and stainless steel. General care is the same for all, but treatments of scratches and stains differs for each. wood Cabinets can be made of many different

 

Wood: Varieties, including maple, birch, and cherry. Often, cabinet boxes and doors are covered in a veneer bonded to lesser-quality woods or medium-density fiberboard rather than being made of solid wood. Wood cabinets are usually finished with either a tough, clear coating that seals and protects the wood or a painted finish.

 

Special Considerations: Do not apply oil to sealed or painted wood cabinets. The oil will not penetrate the finish and will attract dust and grime. Camouflage superficial scratches with shoe polish or a wax fill stick designed for repairing furniture in a color that matches the original finish. Deep scratches will necessitate refinishing.

 

Laminate (also known as melamine): Made of layers of Kraft paper impregnated with plastic, laminate veneers are generally bonded to wood or medium-density fiberboard to create cabinet boxes and doors.

 

Special Considerations: Stains on laminates with a matte and granular texture can be treated with a paste of baking soda and water to draw the stain out. Do not rub, as baking soda is abrasive. Do not use baking soda on laminates with a glossy texture. Camouflage superficial scratches using a repair kit made specifically for laminate cabinets, available at home centers or from cabinet retailers. Deep scratches cannot be repaired; you will need to replace the cabinet door.

 

Thermofoil: This is made of medium-density fiberboard coated with a layer of vinyl. Unlike laminate cabinet doors, which are generally flat, thermofoil cabinet doors often have raised- or recessed-panel designs. Because the vinyl layer is extremely thin, it can be bonded to more intricate shapes than laminate can.

 

Special Considerations: Camouflage superficial scratches using a repair kit made specifically for thermofoil cabinets, available at home centers or from cabinet retailers. Deep scratches cannot be repaired; you will need to replace the cabinet door.

 

Stainless Steel: Made of an alloy of steel and chromium, stainless-steel veneers are bonded to wood or medium-density fiberboard to create cabinet boxes and doors.

 

Special Considerations: Always wipe in the same direction as the grain. Water stains can be treated with a commercial stainless-steel spray. Stainless steel with a smooth finish shows water marks and fingerprints more than stainless with a brushed finish. Although stainless is durable, it will scratch and dent. Superficial scratches can be polished out with a light-duty (white) nylon pad. It’s essential that you polish with the grain; polishing against it will create more damage. Dents are usually not repairable; you will need to replace the entire cabinet door.

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